Ode to tomatoes!

Nutritional values

Nutritional values

Low in calories and carbohydrates, tomatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals. A golden fruit! A medium-sized tomato contains:

  • 23 calories
  • 5 g of carbohydrates
  • 29 mg of vitamin C (39% of the recommended daily intake)
  • 1.3 g of fiber
  • 246 mg of potassium
Health benefits

Health benefits

  • Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins C and B — especially B3, B5 and B9.
  • Tomatoes contain numerous minerals (potassium, phosphorus and magnesium) as well as micronutrients (e.g., iron, zinc, cobalt, nickel).
  • More valuable still is their incredible abundance in antioxidants, including lycopene — one of the most powerful carotenoids in the vegetal world. This pigment, which gives the tomato its red colour, is actually a key component in the Mediterranean diet whose cardiovascular benefits have been extensively documented. Several scientific studies have put forward the anticarcinogenic properties of lycopene. It is said to prevent the proliferation of tumour cells in the stomach, pancreas and colon. In men, it is also said to reduce the incidence of prostate cancer by 20% to 35%.
  • It should be noted that lycopene is better absorbed by the body when tomatoes are cooked and combined with fatty substances (e.g., oil). Furthermore, the darker the tomato, the more lycopene it contains.
  • Research is being conducted to determine whether lycopene can also reduce the risk of macular degeneration as well as lung, bladder and skin cancer.
  • The Brix scale is used to measure (in degrees Brix/°Bx) sucrose content in a liquid, i.e., the percentage of soluble dry matter. Simply put, the Brix is the sugar content in juice. Some varieties of tomatoes are naturally sweeter than others. Several factors can influence the Brix value. With the right amount of light, water, fertilizer and care, and in the proper climate, we are able to produce tomatoes with an unforgettable taste!
    • 4–5 °Bx The majority of commercial tomatoes fall into this category. Their taste is rather bland. High-yielding varieties of tomatoes are often in this category, however, when growing tomatoes, our focus in on flavour.
    • 6 °Bx This is when tomatoes really start tasting like ... tomatoes. The texture of the tomato's skin is also a good flavour indicator.
    • 8 °Bx These tomatoes are more intense, denser, shinier, and have a deep flavour — they are truly delicious!
    • 10 °Bx More rare, this variety boasts a rich aroma and exquisite flavour. Once you try them, you can't get enough!
    • 12–14 °Bx This is the highest category for tomatoes.
Conservation method

Conservation method

  • Choose tomatoes that are firm and that give in when pressed gently.
  • Steer them clear of the refrigerator! Their flavour, texture and nutritional value deteriorate when exposed to temperatures below 12 °C.
  • They will keep for about two weeks when kept at room temperature and out of direct sunlight.
  • Not ripe enough? To speed up the ripening process, keep them in a paper bag.
  • Tomatoes can also be frozen. Whole tomatoes must be blanched (30 to 60 seconds) and peeled prior to freezing. One slight damper: tomatoes lose their juices, become squashed and soften upon freezing. They are therefore only good for cooking.
  • Tomatoes can also be canned. Sterilizing utensils and cans with boiling water or steam using a pressure cooker will destroy the microorganisms and enzymes that cause food spoilage. To ensure canned tomatoes maintain a proper level of acidity, one tablespoon of lemon juice should be added to every two cups of tomatoes.
Glossary

Glossary

Field tomatoes
Reaching their peak between July and October, field tomatoes grow in the sun and the wind. This makes for thicker skin than greenhouse tomatoes. Being exposed to the elements gives them a special flavour. There are hundreds of varieties of field tomatoes. They are perfect for making juice, puree, paste and sauce, not to mention the much appreciated tomato ketchup. They are often harvested mechanically.

Greenhouse tomatoes
Tomatoes are the most important greenhouse cultivation in Canada. Greenhouse cultivation enables the control of the cultivation environment so that flavourful tomatoes can be enjoyed throughout the year. Their uniform colour, round shape and firmness make greenhouse tomatoes easy to recognize. Their smooth skin is flawless and of better quality than that of field tomatoes. Always hand picked, greenhouse tomatoes are delicious when freshly sliced, in a salad or a sandwich, for instance.

Red tomatoes
Red, round and of various sizes depending on the season, these are the most common tomatoes. They are rich in lycopene and can be used in any dish, fresh or cooked. Since they are quite acidic, red tomatoes are best used for sauces and canning.

Pink tomatoes
These are the sweetest and less acidic of all tomatoes. They are a Quebec speciality. In fact, Quebec is now the only pink tomato grower in all of America. Because of their low acidity, pink tomatoes should not be used for canning. They are to be eaten fresh, in a salad or a sandwich, or even stuffed.

Yellow tomatoes
They are especially loved for their beautiful colour that brightens any dish. Yellow tomatoes have hardly any lycopene, however, they do contain small amounts of beta-carotene. Their taste is similar to red tomatoes, but a tad sweeter and more subtle. These medium-firmness tomatoes are perfect for salads and appetizers — they also make delicious gazpachos.

Tomatoes on the vine
These tomatoes are sold on the vine in clusters of at least five fruit, therefore enabling the sap to continue nourishing the fruit. Since these tomatoes continue to ripen once picked, they have a richer aroma than those sold individually. They are ideal as appetizers or for decorating dishes.

Grape or cherry tomatoes
Small, sweet and juicy, these tomatoes measure between 2.5 cm and 3 cm in diameter. They come in a variety of colours (red, yellow, orange and purple) and are sold on the vine or in packs. They can be eaten as is, in side dishes and in salads — even fruit salads!

Italian or plum tomatoes
With their oval shape and their red colour, plum tomatoes are perfect for cooking. They have thicker skin, are denser and have less seeds than classic red tomatoes. Since they contain very little water, they are not very juicy and are easily seeded. They are excellent for passata, sauces and canning.